Identity and heritage learning for mixed-heritage learners.
Leising, Mary A. .
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SubjectHeritage language speakers.; Japanese -- Ethnic identity.; Ethnicity.; Education -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers.
The following study focuses on one group of heritage language learners, adult mixed-heritage language learners of Japanese decent and explores the relationship between their ethnic identity, self-assessed Japanese language proficiency, and their heritage language learning experiences. Seventeen mixed-heritage JHL learners completed surveys of language proficiency, language learning experiences, and ethnic identity orientation. Among the seventeen respondents, five were interviewed to examine their mixed-heritage background and experiences learning JHL. Results suggest that the highest proficiency learners demonstrated the strongest Japanese ethnic identity orientation, however, the converse was not true, that is, the lower proficiency learners also reported strong Japanese ethnic identity orientation scores, while the intermediate proficiency groups demonstrated varying degrees of Japanese ethnic identity orientation. Based on the interview data, many factors besides ethnic identity impacted learners' language proficiency including amount of time spent using Japanese, parental support, and individual factors such as motivation. Implications are for JHL instruction targeting JHLLs needs with meaningful instruction that supplements learners’ literacy skills as well as increasing opportunities for practice with native speakers.